Writing seed germinates into novel
The seed for the novel was cultivated in a weekly writing club at Kettle Moraine Middle School; however, the seeds for writing were planted in elementary school for "Seed Writers" Alex Meeth, Lauren Gennerman and Ethan Suhr. Those seeds sprouted and grew into "Phoenix," a novel about a futuristic world in the wake of a brutal battle where three seemingly unrelated people are brought together in ways they never imagined.
From those seeds sprouted 50,000 words during National Writing Month in November 2011 - 1,776 words a day, split three ways to reach the goal of the annual writing challenge.
Now, the fruits of their labor are available on Amazon.com.
With each of them writing from a different character's perspective, they hit the goal by the end of the month, but knew they weren't done with the story. With the help of local author Kim Suhr, Ethan's mom, they made a plot outline, planning what each of the characters would do in the remaining chapters. They continued writing through the rest of the school year and had most of the book finished by the beginning of the summer.
They sat down to edit and revise the story over the summer, spreading pages out and using sticky notes to help fit the three characters together into one cohesive story.
They read through their work, making sure the timing fit with all the characters. They created "story mountains" with the action rising to a climax for each character.
"Mine was like a scene from the Himalayas," Ethan Suhr commented.
Ethan wrote his character as another perspective of himself, filling in with problems he hasn't yet solved. Lauren's character had a lot of what she loves and hates about herself, she explained. Alex molded his character from many books and movies, he said.
As they worked on editing and revising, Ethan designed the cover, and each wrote an acknowledgement and biography and proofread one more time.
"I have to say that by the time I got their drafts, they were very 'clean' in terms of proofreading," Kim said. "When we'd taken care of all the errors we could find, we uploaded to a print-on-demand website (Createspace) and received a proof for final proofreading, which I left entirely in the hands of the writers."
A few fixes later, and the three aspiring authors they had a final paperback copy and eBook version, which can be purchased on Amazon.
Lauren and Ethan credit their fourth-grade teacher at Magee Elementary School, John Hallagan, with nurturing the writing seed.
"He pushed me harder than I've ever been pushed," said Lauren. She wrote every day and the "pieces just piled up," she said.
Alex has loved writing for as long as he can remember. He loved sitting down and pouring out his thoughts on paper. His second-grade teacher at Dousman Elementary, Linda Horton, recognized his early talent and introduced him to many good books, Alex explained.
From their novel experience, they've learned collaboration, how to turn of the inner editor to get the initial story down or "vomit on the page," as Alex explained.
Kim credits teachers at KMMS for supporting the project, including Heidi Gehlhaart, who mentored the students; Jenni Nichols, who leads the Writing Club and has facilitated book sales, among other things; Julia Rogers, who asked Ethan to present the book to her class; and Principal Theresa Gennerman, who made the school available during the summer.
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